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Section 508 Gets an Update: New Web Accessibility Guidelines for Government Sites Take Effect in January

People with hearing and sight disabilities using screen readers and other assistive tech must be able to access content on government websites, but getting and staying compliant is a challenge. by Zack Quaintance / November 20, 2017

Updates for Section 508 accessibility legislation go into effect in January, creating new specifications for how federal agencies must make websites and other digital information channels navigable for users with disabilities, and experts say these requirements are poised to become the new standard for state and local governments as well.

Court: Movie Theatres Must Accommodate Deaf-Blind Patrons

The Associated Press,, Financial Post, 10,06, 2017.

Federal disability law requires movie theatres to provide specialized interpreters to patrons who are deaf and blind, an appeals court said Friday.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie chain, in a case involving a Pennsylvania man
who wanted to see the 2014 movie “Gone Girl” and asked a Cinemark theatre in Pittsburgh to supply a “tactile interpreter.” The theatre denied his request.

The plaintiff, Paul McGann, is a movie enthusiast who reads American Sign Language through touch. He uses a method of tactile interpretation that involves
placing his hands over the hands of an interpreter who uses sign language to describe the movie’s action, dialogue and even the audience response.

DOJ Halts Plan to Create Website Accessibility Regulations

Careers sites, applications must still be accessible to candidates with disabilities, advocates say By Roy Maurer
Sep 25, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had planned to write regulations for employers to follow to make sure their websites are accessible and readable by people with disabilities, but no more.

The DOJ has moved the regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to its “inactive list,” leaving private employers with an unclear standard for compliance at a time when ADA lawsuits focused on websitesincluding careers sitesare proliferating.

ADA website accessibility regulations under Title II (for state and local governments) and Title III (for businesses open to the public) had been planned for 2017 and 2018, respectively, before the DOJ marked them as inactive.

Another Court Finds That Accessibility Rules Apply to Retail Websites

Last month we told you that a court in Florida had ordered the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain to make its websites accessible to persons with vision impairments by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 standards (WCAG 2.0). This month, another court has weighed in.

In an opinion published on September 6, 2017 (but issued earlier on July 31, 2017), Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the Southern District of New York ruled that a retail website was a place of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (as well as under state and local law) and therefore the owner the website had to take the steps necessary to ensure that the blind have full and equal enjoyment of its website provided that taking such steps would not impose an undue burden on Blick or fundamentally alter the website. Andrews v. Blick Art Materials, LLC, 17-CV-767, NYLJ 1202797331595, at *15 (EDNY, Decided July 31, 2017).

UAE Students Invent Photo-to-Braille Translator; To Make Reading Easier for Visually Impaired

Portable reading device developed by students at UAE University in Al Ain can translate written material into Braille Sami Zaatari,
Gulf News, Sept. 8, 2017

Abu Dhabi: An innovative student-led project at the UAE University in Al Ain is hoping to make reading easier for visually impaired people by developing a pocket-sized portable device that can translate reading materials into Braille.

The device, which is still in its prototype stage, has a built-in camera that can be used to take photos of any type of reading material, which is then converted into Braille, allowing a visually impaired person to read at any time they want.

Government of Canada Supports Greater Accessibility in Public Consultation Forums for People with Speech and Language Disabilities

GATINEAU, QC, Aug. 31, 2017 /CNW/ – Communications Disabilities Access Canada, a national not-for-profit organization, will make public consultation forums more accessible to Canadians who have speech and language disabilities.

Today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced the launch of this initiative, funded through the disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program.

A more inclusive Canada is one where all Canadians are given equal opportunity to contribute to their communities and share their views on the social and economic issues that affect their lives. This is why the Government of Canada is committed to support innovative accessibility projects that reduce barriers for people with disabilities and improve their participation and integration into all aspects of society.

Obtaining Accessible Cable Television: A Frustrating Experience

Janet Ingber

At the AccessWorld Tech Summit in March 2017, part of the American Foundation for the Blind’s annual Leadership Conference, I was so excited while listening to a presentation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about accessible devices including cable boxes. I figured I could call my cable company when I got home and get an accessible cable box. I was wrong.

FCC Regulations Summary for Accessible Cable Boxes

The FCC conference presenters were Suzy Rosen Singleton, Chief, and Will Schell, Attorney-Advisor, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. They focused on access to video description.

NASA Paves A Way for People Who are Blind to Experience A Total Solar Eclipse

Aug 17, 2017

app screenshot On August 21, 2017, just a few days away, the United States of America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse. Said to be an unforgettable experience, many people plan to descend upon this path of totality and view complete darkness.

But what about those who will not be able to “see” this event NASA now has a solution. The Eclipse Soundscapes Project by NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium will help deliver a multisensory experience of this celestial event.

Committed to Technology Equality for People with Disabilities

July 26, 2017
Written by: Dr. Ruoyi Zhou

The year 2017 will be remembered as a major milestone in the relationship between technology and equality.

Earlier this year, updates were finally approved to the Section 508 Amendment of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that transformed turn-of-the-century accessibility guidelines for procurement and services of the U.S. federal government to encompass modern challenges and solutions. This new set of requirements provides organizations with a roadmap toward creating inclusive technologies that can benefit all individuals, including people with disabilities.

A Robot to Help Visually Impaired Schoolchildren Find Their Way

03.07.17 – Summer series students works:

Alexandre Foucqueteau has taught Cellulo, a little hand-sized robot, how to help visually impaired children find their bearings and avoid obstacles in the classroom.

For his semester project, Alexandre Foucqueteau came up with a new application for a little multifunctional robot called Cellulo. Created at EPFL two years ago in a collaboration between the Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instrution (CHILI) and the Robotic Systems Laboratory (LSRO) with the support of NCCR Robotics, the robot can now help visually impaired children get around their classroom. The child moves the little robot around a map of the room. When the robot bumps virtually into something, such as a table or the teacher’s desk, it can recognize the object. That may sound like a piece of cake, but getting a tablet to interact with the robot and recognize the objects was actually quite complex.

Microsoft’s New iPhone App Narrates the World for Blind People

The app uses AI to recognize people, objects, and scenes
by James Vincent@jjvincent
Jul 12, 2017

Microsoft has released Seeing AI a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.

Big Win for Blind Shopper in First U.S. ADA Web Accessibility Trial

Law Office of Lainey Feingold, June 13, 2017

On June 12, a judge in the federal District Court in South Florida made history. That history came in the form of a court order in a lawsuit filed by blind Florida resident Juan Carlos Gil against regional grocer Winn-Dixie.

The lawsuit argued that the Winn-Dixie website wasn’t accessible. Mr Gil could not read the store’s online coupons using his screen reader or use other features on the site.

After a two-day trial the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (Mr. Gil). That order is historic because it is believed that this is the very first trial in an ADA case about website accessibility against a private company, known legally as a public accommodation. Read the Seyfarth Shaw blog post that identified the historic nature of this trial.

Is your Company’s Website Accessible to the Disabled? You’d Better Hope So

By Mark Pulliam
June 11, 2017, 4:00 AM

The Americans With Disabilities Act produced tangible benefits. Signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA banned employment discrimination against the disabled and eliminated unnecessary physical barriers to commercial and government buildings. But in the quarter-century since it was enacted, the law has also had countless unintended consequences mutating definitions of what constitutes a physical or mental disability, senseless mandates, astronomical compliance costs for business owners and, perhaps most damaging of all, waves of abusive litigation.

Indeed, ADA lawsuits are now as common as sex-discrimination lawsuits, with more than 26,000 new claims filed against employers each year. The latest litigants have their sights on the most innovative segment of our domestic economy: e-commerce.

Wearable System Helps Visually Impaired Users Navigate

Larry Hardesty | MIT News Office
May 31, 2017

New algorithms power a prototype system for helping visually impaired users avoid obstacles and identify objects.
Device provides information from a 3-D camera, via vibrating motors and a Braille interface. Watch Video at the link below

Computer scientists have been working for decades on automatic navigation systems to aid the visually impaired, but its been difficult to come up with anything as reliable and easy to use as the white cane, the type of metal-tipped cane that visually impaired people frequently use to identify clear walking paths.

AMI Partners with Prominent Web Organization to Further Encourage Media Accessibility and Inclusion

May 25, 2017

TORONTO, May 25, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —
Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announced today that it has become an official member organization of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

With more than 400 members world-wide, W3C is an organization that facilitates the creation of standards that shape web technology. One of its primary goals is to make the Web widely accessible to all people regardless of hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, physical or mental ability. AMI shares similar values with a strong focus on inclusion, empowerment and innovation.

‘Hey Siri’ – how mobile technology can support inclusion

By Contributor on April 27, 2017 in Community Care Review

For such a small piece of equipment, the iPad packs a lot of punch when it comes to providing accessibility features, writes Jacqui Kirkman.

While there is still a need for custom-built equipment, many people with special accessibility needs are finding that an iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch or similar devices by other manufacturers can perform the same functions for a much lower price and sometimes in a way that makes them stand out less.

Fighting the Social Factors of Accessibility

Digital content shared through a website is a powerful tool for nonprofit outreach, fundraising, community building, and program delivery. It can give a parent access to amazing resources they otherwise may not have found, and bring new eyes to your parent center.

But what if your message is falling on “deaf ears”?

Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a documented disability. That’s 20% of fundraising opportunities or outreach your organization could be missing.

On top of reaching those with disabilities, nonprofits need to take into account social factors like:

  • Users who speak another language
  • Users with low literacy rates
  • Users who aren’t computer savvy

The Mortgage Industry’s Next Headache: Website Accessibility Requirements

by Jack McElaney
on May 17, 2017

If past behavior is a good predictor of the future, mortgage lenders (as well as mortgage brokers, settlement services providers and real estate brokers, for that matter) should brace themselves: A new regulatory compliance shoe is about to fall, with private litigation leading the way.

The focus is website accessibility a catch-all phrase that means making websites and other digital platforms and files accessible to individuals with disabilities.

There are no Web accessibility regulations currently in place that are aimed at financial institutions generally or at the housing and housing finance industries specifically. But you don’t need a crystal ball or 20/20 vision to see them coming. A look at the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will tell you what you need to know.

Two-Thirds of Councils Pass Web Accessibility Test

New survey points to fall from last year, but Socitm points out the test has become more demanding

More than two-thirds of councils have passed stage two of the accessibility test created by the Better Connected service of public sector IT association Socitm, but the number has declined slightly from last year.

It said that in a recent survey covering a mix of counties, districts, metropolitan authorities and unitaries throughout the UK, 134 of 195 passed the test for their sites to be used by people with disabilities. This amounted to 69%, but the figure for last year was 77%.

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

San Francisco, CA April 28, 2017

AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies.